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March 06, 2016

Sunday Morning Book Thread 03-06-2016: (Self) Control [OregonMuse]


marshmallow test.jpg
Civilization Is Hard

I am OregonMuse and now I am become Death, the destroyer of threads.

Good morning to all of you morons and moronettes and bartenders everywhere and all the ships at sea. And to all you young lovers wherever you are, we hope your problems are few. Welcome to AoSHQ's stately, prestigious, internationally acclaimed and high-class Sunday Morning Book Thread. The Sunday Morning Book Thread is the only AoSHQ thread that is so hoity-toity, pants are required.


Bald bið se ðe onbyregeð boca cræftes;
symle bið ðe wisra.

(Translation): Bold is he who tastes books' craft; he will ever be the wiser.

(Shorter version): Reading Is Good.

(from @OEWisdom via @ThePoliticalHat)


Would You Pass The Marshmallow Test?

The marshmallow test was the invention of psychologist Walter Mischel, who, according to wiki, researched "the ability to delay gratification and to exert self-control in the face of strong situational pressures".

In these studies, a child was offered a choice between one small reward provided immediately or two small rewards if they waited for a short period, approximately 15 minutes, during which the tester left the room and then returned. (The reward was sometimes a marshmallow, but often a cookie or a pretzel.)

And then he followed the partipants for a number of years afterwards, And Mischel was able to see, hold on to your hats, that the ability to wait for things and to control impulses is an indicator of a number of other success factors.

The devil you say:

In follow-up studies, the researchers found that children who were able to wait longer for the preferred rewards tended to have better life outcomes, as measured by SAT scores, educational attainment, body mass index (BMI), and other life measures.

So, this means that kids who master self-control tend to be more successful in life than those who don't? Whoever would've thought that?

Ideally, of course, self-control is something that parents should teach their children. But it wouldn't be that hard to sneak it in as part of a daily lesson plan at school. But that assumes that the progressives who have commandeered the American education system see this as something desirable. Of course, they don't. That sort of thing is not the purpose of modern education. Nowadays, the most important goal is to get students all wee wee'd up over teh wimmins or teh environment or teh minorities or teh gays, and how they're all oppressed by teh evil white mejn. That's the point of education: the inculcation of one particular political perspective for political ends and the total demonization of all dissent, no matter how trivial or well-intentioned.

The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control is the book Mischel wrote about his research. The Amazon blurb pimps it like this:

In The Marshmallow Test, Mischel explains how self-control can be mastered and applied to challenges in everyday life--from weight control to quitting smoking, overcoming heartbreak, making major decisions, and planning for retirement. With profound implications for the choices we make in parenting, education, public policy and self-care, The Marshmallow Test will change the way you think about who we are and what we can be.

Recently I've seen some pretty disgusting YouTube videos of large public brawls (i.e riots) in various shopping malls and one of a knock-down fight in a welfare office, and I'd guess few, if any, of the participants would've passed the marshmallow test. Heck, most of them probably couldn't pass the marshmallow test even as adults.

In case you're to busy or cheap to read the book, here's an interesting 15-minute YouTube video that's basically a book report (the last 3 minutes of this 18 minute video is an infomercial). But the guy's a good, professional speaker and he explains the issues well.


Triumph of the Longbow

This came up as a $0.99 special on Bookbub, don't know if that price is still holding today, but at least some of you morons will be interested in the classic History of the Battle of Agincourt: The Expedition of Henry the Fifth into France in 1415 by Nicholas Harris Nicolas. This is the story of

...Henry’s attempt to gain the kingdom of France by blade of sword and arrows of his longbowmen.

To commemorate the six hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt Albion Press has republished a classic study of conflict, detailing not only how it was fought but also its build up and aftermath.

Compiled in 1833, this history of the famous battle of 1415 is told through contemporary chroniclers on both the English and French sides.

Heh. Longbows. Is there anything they can't do?


Wall Street Cronyism != Capitalism

You ever get into an argument with a socialist or someone who's all wee-wee'd up over "capitalism"? Generally, their arguments are on the order of, "If you want an example of the failures or capitalism, just look what happened in 2008." And then you have to patiently explain to them, no, financial industry honchos making backroom deals with DC politicians isn't capitalism, a more accurate term would be "crony socialism". And governmental bailouts of enterprises that have been declared "too big to fail" isn't capitalism, either, that's just more cronyism. But by the time you've finished explaining all of this to the guy you're arguing with, he's moved on to some other BS talking point, and hasn't heard a single word you've said.

I was watching an Andew Klavan YouTube video wherein he was ridiculing the economic fabulations of progressives, and he mentioned a couple of books that are helpful for these sorts of discussions. The first is After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street - and Washington by Nicole Gelinas, who, in the wake of the financial fiasco of 2008, argues for the reintroduction of

...market discipline to the financial world. [Policymakers] can do so by re-creating a credible, consistent way in which big financial companies can fail, with lenders taking their warranted losses. Second, policymakers can reapply prudent financial regulations so that markets, and the economy, can better withstand inevitable excesses of optimism and pessimism. Sensible regulations have worked well in the past and can work well again.

In other words, market failures need to happen. Setting up can't-fail safety nets will introduce distortions to the market which results will be difficult to predict, other than the fact that they'll make things worse. That's the theory, but I don't see how it can be put into practice in today's political climate. There's always going to be those who want to exempt themselves from the laws of supply-and-demand that apply to everyone else, who can get the ear of powerful politicians and convince them that they're "too big to fail."

The second book mentioned by Klavan is How an Economy Grows and Why It Crashes by Peter and Andrew Schiff, which

...explain[s] the roots of economic growth, the uses of capital, the destructive nature of consumer credit, the source of inflation, the importance of trade, savings, and risk, and many other topical principles of economics.

The tales told here may appear simple of the surface, but they will leave you with a powerful understanding of How an Economy Grows and Why it Crashes.

Of course, for basic economics books, you can't beat the classics, and I'm thinking of this book, Economics in One Lesson: The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics by Henry Hazlitt, which has been educating n00b conservatives and maybe not-so-n00bs on fundamental economics for three generations. I first learned of the broken window fallacy from this book.

And actually, the broken window fallacy was first seen in the essay That Which Is Seen, and That Which Is Not Seen by another titan of conservative thought, Frédéric Bastiat. It is part of a larger collection, Essays on Political Economy, which is available for free at Project Gutenberg.


Moron Recommendations

@PoliticalHat has a recommendation for all CPAC2016 attendees, calling it "the book they need to read the most." He's talking about the 1874 book Liberty, Equality, Fraternity by James Fitzjames Stephen.

Impugning John Stuart Mill’s famous treatise, On Liberty, Stephen criticized Mill for turning abstract doctrines of the French Revolution into “the creed of a religion.” Only the constraints of morality and law make liberty possible, warned Stephen, and attempts to impose unlimited freedom, material equality, and an indiscriminate love of humanity will lead inevitably to coercion and tyranny.

Stephen's wiki entry says that he:

...wrote a series of articles which resulted in his book Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (1873–1874)--a protest against John Stuart Mill's neo-utilitarianism. Most famously he attacked the thesis of J S Mill's essay On Liberty and argued for legal compulsion, coercion and restraint in the interests of morality and religion.

In other words, don't eat the marshmallow.

You can read this book online, or download a pdf version directly from this link. I glanced through the pdf to get a feel for it. I did see some obvious rendering mistakes, so they probably should've spent a bit more time cleaning it up, but I would rate it "mostly readable".

The Online Library of Liberty has a metric pantload of other stuff available for reading or download here.

___________

A lurking moron was recently able to finally put a very weighty obligation behind him, which freed up some time for reading, so he sent me a number of recommendations.

First up is Christopher Nuttall's Empire's Corps series

The Galactic Empire is dying and chaos and anarchy are breaking out everywhere. After a disastrous mission against terrorists on Earth itself, Captain Edward Stalker..and his men are unceremoniously exiled to Avalon, a world right on the Rim of the Empire.

...The Marines rapidly find themselves caught up in a whirlwind of political and economic chaos, fighting to preserve Avalon before the competing factions tear the world apart. They’re Marines; if anyone can do it, they can.

There are 11 volumes in this military sci-fi series. Lurker says the author is "a good writer and knows his politics and military."

He also "highly recommends" Larry Correia's Dead Six, a thriller involving what you might call competing agendas:

Michael Valentine, veteran and former member of an elite private military company, has been recruited by the government to conduct a secret counter-terror operation in the Persian Gulf nation of Zubara. The unit is called Dead Six. Their mission is to take the fight to the enemy and not get caught.

Lorenzo, assassin and thief extraordinaire, is being blackmailed by the world's most vicious crime lord. His team has to infiltrate the Zubaran terrorist network and pull off an impossible heist or his family will die. When Dead Six compromises his objective, Lorenzo has a new job: Find and kill Valentine.

Boom.

My lurking correspondent also likes Thomas Mays' A Sword Into Darkness, which he calls "a solid space opera":

Aerospace tycoon Gordon Elliot Lee cannot stand idly by while a mysterious alien presence from Delta Pavonis bears down upon mankind's only home. Shut out from NASA and military support, Gordon is forced to go it alone, to sow the seeds for an entirely new sort of planetary defense: a space-based naval force.

Joined by Nathan Kelley -- a bloodied naval warrior, scarred by his own actions in the waters off North Korea -- and Kris Munoz -- an avant garde scientific genius with more ideas than sense -- these three will scour the very edges of fringe science and engineering to attempt development of Earth's first space navy in time to oppose the Deltan invasion.

And the clock is ticking...

Lurker sent me other recommendations, but I'll post them in next week's thread.


What I'm Reading

I've started Disinformation: Former Spy Chief Reveals Secret Strategies for Undermining Freedom, Attacking Religion, and Promoting Terrorism by Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, a former 3-star general in the Romanian Secret Police who became the highest ranking defector from a Soviet Bloc country.

Pacepa, along with his co-author, historian and law professor Ronald Rychlak, expose some of the most consequential yet largely unknown disinformation campaigns of our lifetime. Here the reader will discover answers to many crucial questions of the modern era: Why, during the last two generations, has so much of the Western world turned against its founding faith, Christianity? Why have radical Islam, jihad and terrorism burst aflame after a long period of apparent quiescence? Why is naked Marxism increasingly manifesting in America and its NATO allies? What really happened to Russia after the Berlin Wall came down? Like the solution to a giant jigsaw puzzle lacking one crucial piece, Disinformation authoritatively provides the missing dimension that makes the chaos of the modern world finally understandable.

Pacepa, now 88 years old, is still very much alive and kicking. He is the author of the article The Secret Roots Of Liberation Theology, which appeared on National Review Online in April, 2015, which makes the following, perhaps not so surprising, claim about the origin of what we have come to know as "liberation theology":

It was not invented by Latin American Catholics. It was developed by the KGB. The man who is now the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, secretly worked for the KGB under the code name “Mikhailov” and spent four decades promoting liberation theology, which we at the top of the Eastern European intelligence community nicknamed Christianized Marxism.

He says he goes into great detail about this in Disinformation, but I haven't got to that part, yet.

More:

In 2006 Archbishop Kirill’s personal wealth was estimated at $4 billion by the Moscow News. No wonder. In the mid-1990s, the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, managed by Kirill, was granted the privilege of duty-free importation of cigarettes as reward for his loyalty to the KGB. It did not take long for him to become the largest supplier of foreign cigarettes in Russia.

Holy crap, that's a lot of rubles. If you can't read the book, at least read this NRO article.


___________

Heh: While I was tootling around Amazon compiling book thread material, the site's "you might be interested in this book" algorithm pointed me at Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity by some guy who evidently believes it. In fact, it looks like recent events are causing him no small amount of concern:

This book examines a disturbing phenomenon that Jacobs began noticing in 2003. The alien integration action plan has kicked into high gear. The incidents of alien abductions have accelerated as have occurrences of alien involvement in everyday human life. A silent and insidious invasion has begun. Alien hybrids have moved into your neighborhood and into your workplace. They have been trained by human abductees to “pass,” to blend in to society, to appear as normal as your next door neighbor.

I remember a few years ago seeing an article in some tabloid, Weekly World News perhaps, that gave some tips about how you could tell if your co-worker was actually an alien. One of the items was "inappropriate culinary choices", and they gave, as an example, putting mayonnaise on French fries. That's supposedly a tell. I'm not sure what to do if you ever saw somebody do this, call the Men in Black, maybe?

And I had to laugh at this 1-star review:

The world, and especially America, has been filled with dark beings controlling our political/economic/financial systems. Humanities belief structure has been poisoned by the media with lies, distorted view points, and flat-out disinformation. And then that disinformation becomes misinformation.

Now, which one of you morons is able to tell me that this isn't true? And I especially like the description of entrenched politicians, the corrupt donor-lobbyist complex, and progressive agitators as "dark beings". Although it does sound kind of racist, don't you think?

However,

...The bad "aliens" have been here for a very long time and that is a big reason why the world has been in chaos.

You may roll your eyes and laugh, but let me tell you, I have been hit with so many "WTF?" moments in the past few years that I'm about ready to rate this explanation as "mostly true".


___________

Don't forget the AoSHQ reading group on Goodreads. It's meant to support horde writers and to talk about the great books that come up on the book thread. It's called AoSHQ Moron Horde and the link to it is here: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/175335-aoshq-moron-horde.

___________

So that's all for this week. As always, book thread tips, suggestions, bribes, rumors, threats, and insults may be sent to OregonMuse, Proprietor, AoSHQ Book Thread, at the book thread e-mail address: aoshqbookthread, followed by the 'at' sign, and then 'G' mail, and then dot cee oh emm.

What have you all been reading this week? Hopefully something good, because, as you all know, life is too short to be reading lousy books.

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